Building on Borrowed Time

Coastal Surge + Storm Protection Renovation Project

Featured in 41°N

41°N, a publication of Rhode Island Sea Grant & the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island, showcases the work of Richmond Gardner Builder to restore a landmark home on Matunuck beach severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy.  

The magazine's cover story "Erosion: Building on Borrowed Time" investigates the increasing rate of erosion and sea level rise along Rhode Island's southern coastline, and looks at balancing issues such as the right protect private property, environmental stewardship, public access to the shoreline, and determining responsibility for damages.


photography by John Supancic

photography by john supacic


This extensive project entailed removing the main house and carriage house from damaged foundations.  To exceed impact zone coastal flooding and wind resistance standards, both structures were lifted onto helical piers with screw piles extending 24 feet below into the hardpan of the earth. Then, a steel reinforced grade beam and subsequent piers were extended 16 feet above GPS zero.  The project scope also included demolishing and rebuilding the first floor of the carriage house, reconstructing sections of the exterior for both houses, and installing heat pumps and ductless mini splits.  

Being located along the coast, Richmond is well-versed in technologies and building approaches that can help homeowners address increasing vulnerability to sea level rise and coastal flooding. Out team takes pride in being at the leading edge of new developments and best practices, collaborating frequently with coastal management resources and industry peers. We work closely with clients and architects to integrate coastal protection strategies that follow changes in climate and other environmental conditions, while ensuring that a cohesive design is achieved. 


41°N is published twice per year by the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program and the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island (URI).  The name refers to the latitude at which Rhode Island lies.  

Rhode Island Sea Grant is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and was established to promote the conservation and sustainable development of marine resources for the public benefit through research, outreach and education.  

The URI Coastal Institute works in partnerships to provide a neutral setting where knowledge is advance, issues discussed, information synthesized and solutions developed for the sustainable use and management of coastal ecosystems. 

Click here to read "Erosion: Building on Borrowed Time" in its entirety.